Houston’s African American Community is Owning Up! By: Ania Sherman

From skincare to real estate, houstons’ own entrepreneurs are taking the leap, using their own creative minds to build businesses in your area.

The African American community is starting to own up. Putting the “black”, in “black owned”.

Promising young, and established owners Javonne Steward, Anthony Gallien, and Althea Sherman shine light on entrepreneurship, the importance of leadership and confidence, ties to the community, and the joy of owning a business.

Javonne Steward is the owner of “Princess Javonne” it is a children’s book, and leadership program that teaches young girls, and soon young boys about confidence, entrepreneurship, and endurance through exercises, workshops, and parties.

Her inspiration was her newborn baby girl Avaa, and making money. Growing up in several foster homes in Chicago, Steward had to have a hustle.

Even as a child she would braid hair for pocket change. As she grew older she participated in Mary Kay cosmetics. After having her daughter she wondered “how could I combine the mary kay, with children?” Steward said.

Soon after she bought a full ballroom gown, and dressed up like a princess.

Later she felt as if it was lacking something “It needs substance….a message” Steward said, and thus the company was born.

For Anthony Gallien, it was much different. Gallien was a semi-average teenager, he dealt with severe acne throughout his life. One day he researched natural medicines, and came up with his own product.

By the age of 19 he was already making about $500 to $600 a day as an engineer. Yet he was not happy.

“I felt as if I wasn’t living up to my truest potential” said Gallien

One day at work he realized that the company profited so much more money from his labor. Then he thought:

“What would happen if I produced something, created to serve others” Gallien said.

And thus his company Trena, an all-natural organic skin care line was born.

Althea Sherman’s road to her own business was much different. As a certified real estate agent in multiple states she always hated dealing with the sky-high broker fees of Keller Williams.

After she made sale, after sale, it seemed as if her agency sat, and watched her toil, then reaped the benefits of her hard work.

In 2014 she was tired of her 70/30 commission split.

“My broker did nothing, I no longer saw fit to give my money to Keller Williams. I opted out of being a salesperson, and decided to be my own broker, and have my own company, and make 100% commission” said Sherman.

All of these entrepreneurs have dealt with ups, and downs that come with the territory of owning a business. Their most important obstacle was entrepreneurship.

“I had this idea but I didn’t know how to get it off the ground” said Steward.

The same wall was in between Gallien, and his dreams. So Steward, and Gallien said the same thing.

Gallien’s advice, “get a piece of paper, as long as it’s up here [points to his head] it can never manifest out here”.

Leadership and confidence are also very important skill sets entrepreneurs need to have. You need to be able to lead a team. You cannot be afraid of anyone, because they could be a potential customer.

“When you are a business owner, you are selling yourself” said Sherman.

Steward said “I don’t think you can be an entrepreneur without having confidence”.

Giving back to the community is not an obligation to these entrepreneurs, but a spreading of wealth and wisdom.

Gallien uses his gift to mentor young people, he wants them to be creative. Sherman on the other has a program for young college students and parents.

“I teach young students the beauty of homeownership, and how important it is. We go through what an agent does, how to apply for loans, and how they can get started in college”.

Entrepreneurship is not all that bad, says these business owners. They all said that it is worth the hard work being that it pays off in the long run.

Gallien said “It’s great not having that voice tell you to get up, you have to go to work”.

For Steward it means no one getting in the way of her creative ideas.

“You make the rules, you call the shots, there is no one there to say no, to any of your ideas”.

Overall Entrepreneurship is not all hard work and no play. Yet it is not easy, it takes hard work dedication, a positive attitude, and being a self motivator.

But take it from Gallien when he says “You basically have to be crazy, to be an entrepreneur…but in a good way”.

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